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Washington state motorists stranded after floods, mudslides

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Heavy rainfall in a wildfire-charred area of North Central Washington state triggered flash flooding and mudslides that stranded motorists and closed highways, a forecaster said on Friday.

Vehicles were trapped in debris-laden water at about 8 p.m. PDT Thursday (0300 GMT Friday) in Okanogan County, and mud and rocks carried by moving water blocked State Highway 20, said National Weather Service meteorologist Stephen Corfidi.

Up to 10 vehicles were also stranded in mud in the Methow Valley, Corfidi said.

Heavy rain started early Thursday afternoon in North Central Washington state, which has been burned by destructive wildfires.

More than an inch (2.54 cm) of rain fell in about an hour near the town of Twisp, Corfidi said.

Local media said power was cut and homes were damaged in some areas.

"It's a taste of fall, really," Corfidi said. "It was favorable for peak thunderstorm development in a relatively confined area."

The charred areas, especially on steep terrain, were more vulnerable to rapid runoff, he added.

There were no reports of injuries, he said.

Rainfall had largely subsided despite lingering, weaker thunderstorms overnight on Friday, Corfidi said. More rain was forecast for later in the day.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)